As Brinker International upgraded its tabletop technology and opened new eateries, the hospitality company reported that comparable restaurant sales increased 2 percent at its Chili’s locations in Q2 FY 2020 compared to the same period the prior year. By contrast, comparable restaurant sales fell 1.4 percent at the company’s Maggiano’s locations.
CEO and President Wyman Roberts said in a call with analysts on Wednesday (Jan. 29) that the company is piloting new initiatives to improve its operating systems, bolster its value proposition and increase efficiencies. Those efforts have helped to strengthen the firm’s business model and distinguish it from competitors, he added.
During the quarter, Brinker International started to replace its original tabletop system with a new, more advanced version that aims to improve the guest experience. With the upgraded system, Roberts pointed out that the firm will harness operational advantages such as customer payment and real-time feedback, in addition to marketing improvements like direct login to its loyalty program.
Roberts also noted that the technology provides more advanced features, such as near-field communication, and enables the company to personalize its marketing efforts and tap into its powerful consumer database. He also said that the remodel and new restaurant development program are performing well.
Brinker International opened six new restaurants through January, with as many as seven additional new and relocated eateries to open this fiscal year. Roberts also noted that off-premise was again the primary sales driver at Chili’s, encompassing takeout, third-party delivery and delivery via its website and app. He added that Q2 was the eighth consecutive quarter that Chili’s outperformed the category in terms of traffic.
Roberts said in the call, “We’re really pleased with this trend, as it demonstrates our ability to meet the consumers’ increasing needs for convenience, value and consistency at a level matched by few other brands.” He also acknowledged that Maggiano’s had a softer quarter, but finished strong over the holidays.
Brinker International reported better-than-expected Q2 FY 2020 earnings, but fell short on top-line results, with sales of $847.5 million and earnings per diluted share (excluding special items) of $1.01. Analysts had expected sales of $879.6 million and earnings per share of 95 cents.